Div­ing into the deep his­tory of our Tor­rens

The Advertiser - - BOOMER -


The first Swim-ThroughAde­laide – which be­came an an­nual event – was held in Fe­bru­ary 1911.

Ac­cord­ing to one re­port, it ini­tially started from the Al­bert Bridge, near the zoo, end­ing at the weir. It was later switched to start at the weir and fin­ish at the Ade­laide Univer­sity foot­bridge, the swim­mers cov­er­ing a dis­tance of “One Mile and 200 Yards”, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Ade­laide Daily Herald news­pa­per of 1921.

By that time, it had at­tracted about 150 swim­mers, who had to con­tend with a nar­rowed chan­nel be­caue of reeds en­croach­ing from the river­banks.

The old weir was dam­aged by floods and a new con­crete one built in 1928-29. It in­cluded a foot­bridge from which the con­tes­tants could make a div­ing start.

And so it re­mained un­til the fi­nal race in 1969. The fol­low­ing year saw an of­fi­cial end to all swim­ming in the river, at which time the weir ceased to be a favoured div­ing place for young­sters.

Ade­laide City Coun­cil has dredged the Tor­rens Lake from time to time, to re­move silt and other rub­bish. In 2014, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pro­vided $1 mil­lion to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity and reveg­e­tate the banks, in a Land­care pro­gram with eight SA coun­cils along the river.

That has in­cluded net­ting at out­lets to pre­vent de­bris en­ter­ing the river after storms, and may have re­duced the rate of pol­lu­tion. How­ever, re­cent heavy rains have sent rub­bish rac­ing into the Tor­rens Lake from trib­u­taries and stormwa­ter drains.

Sadly, swim­ming and div­ing in the cool­ing wa­ters in sum­mer are likely to re­main a dis­tant, and fad­ing, mem­ory.

COOL­ING OFF: Ade­laide young­sters es­cape the heat at the Gil­ber­ton Swim­ming Pool in 1967.

ON YOUR MARKS: Crowds watch as the com­peti­tors line up at the Tor­rens Weir for the start of the an­nual Swim-Through-Ade­laide event in 1939. Pic­tures: AD­VER­TISER LI­BRARY

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